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High-Stakes Poker Player Paul Phua Cleared Of Illegal Sports Betting Charges In Macau

Paul Phua Acquitted Of Illegal Sports Betting Charges For Second Time


High-stakes poker player and businessman Paul Phua evaded authorities’ illegal gambling charges for a second time on Wednesday.

Phua and the 14 other defendants accused of running an illegal sports betting operation on the 2014 World Cup were acquitted of all charges by the Court of First Instance in Macau.

The charges alleged that Phua and his colleagues were taking bets out of hotel rooms at the Wynn Macau during the 2014 World Cup. They allegedly had collected $147.7 million in wagers on the sporting event.

Law enforcement in Macau received an anonymous tip that certain rooms in the Wynn Macau were running the illegal operation. After studying surveillance for several days, they searched the rooms and seized computers and other electronic devices that contained betting information on the matches.

Lei Wai Seng, the judge that ruled on the case, stated that the Public Prosecutors Office and the Judiciary Police were unable to prove that Phua and the other defendants were accepting or placing wagers on the soccer matches. Furthermore, he said that the police failed to prove who owned the electronic devices that were seized.

In other words, although the information on the computers clearly had betting information on them, there weren’t any names attached to the documents.

The prosecution has 20 days to decide if they want to appeal the court’s decision, otherwise, Phua and his cohorts are in the clear. If convicted, the defendants in the case could have faced up to three years in prison.

Phua was arrested on almost identical charges in the United States during the same World Cup. His suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas was raided by FBI agents and computers were seized. Those computers contained information about an illegal betting ring that wagered $400 million.

Just a year later, a federal judge in Nevada dismissed the case, citing that the FBI agents seized the evidence illegally.

Phua is a regular in the infamous nose-bleed stakes poker games that take place in Macau. He won the 2016 One Drop Extravaganza Super High Roller for $827,722.